Local protesters join movement against Dakota pipeline

MARQUETTE – A group gathered on the shores of Lake Superior at Mccarthy’s Cove this morning for a sunrise ceremony to reflect on the importance of water, before they walked to Wells Fargo bank in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The protest was synchronized with about 200 other protest actions in the U.S. and around the world to show support for the protest by Standing Rock Sioux tribe at the site of the pipeline’s construction.

The Marquette-based group that helped organize the event, Yoopers for Standing Rock, which can be found on Facebook, is also organizing a trip to North Dakota to deliver donated supplies and participate in the protest. A number of vehicles will be leaving this weekend and next week Wednesday, with about 20 people from the Marquette area planning to make the trip.

They are collecting donations to be delivered, including cold-weather tents, cold-weather sleeping bags, coats, tarps, propane fuel canisters, wood stoves, solar panels, medicine for people and horses, horse feed, non-perishable food, water, firewood, sunscreen and goggles (to protect from pepper spray). Items can be dropped off at the garage of Diane Patrick and Mark Mitchell at 342 W. Crescent St. in Marquette.

Nancy Irish protested in Marquette today as a world citizen, she said.

“I think a lot of us have reached a point of ‘enough. Enough,'” she said.

A person would have to be blind, Irish continued, not to see what’s happening to the earth, water, air and marginalized peoples.

“I’m ready to stand up with them and other people who are suffering from the tidal wave of hate in this country, and if we don’t stand up to it, it’s (going to) keep happening,” Irish said. “(This protest is) not with hate, it’s with resolve and determination and a deep love for this planet and her peoples.”

Tyler Dettloff said he was there for the sake of the water.

“it’s good to be here with the biggest lake and some powerful people,” Dettloff said. “Water’s connected everywhere, and we’re standing with the people, … in hopes that that battle for water never comes here. But our direct action is walking and raising awareness and actually stopping at Wells Fargo, which is one of the banks that funds the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

The pipeline is planned to run beneath a Missouri River reservoir that provides drinking water to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. The pipeline would deliver oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois, according to the Associated Press.

The company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline is seeking a federal court’s permission to lay pipe under the reservoir and finish the four-state project, according to the AP.

The Army Corps of Engineers called Monday for more study and input from the Standing Rock Sioux before it decides whether to allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe, the AP reports. The tribe says the pipeline threatens drinking water and cultural sites.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners and a subsidiary are asking U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to confirm the company has the legal right to proceed.

The Corps in July granted ETP the permits needed for the crossing, but it said in September that further analysis was warranted given tribal concerns.

ETP says additional delay amounts to politic interference.

Activists have called for demonstrators to protest today at Army Corps of Engineers offices and offices of banks that are financing the pipeline project. The protesters want President Barack Obama to permanently halt construction of the pipeline.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., environmental attorney and president of the New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance, was slated to join protesters of the pipeline in today, the AP reports.

Dettloff said it’s important to know that the original pipeline plan was rerouted away from the city of Bismarck, North Dakota, after citizens aired concerns about the affect it might have on their water.

“Now since April 1, there’s been a camp, and multiple camps have sprung up afterwards, protesting what took five minutes for Bismarck to do, and it’s … going on eight months,” Dettloff said. “People are camped out, having a sacred, prayerful, peaceful, non-violent, no-weapons, no-alcohol, no-drugs (protest). … So we’re here to help them any way we can.”

Event organizer Nate Frischkorn, a Northern Michigan University student studying environmental studies and sociology, said the DAPL is an example of the larger issue of environmental justice.

“You may have an environmental issue and the impacts are disproportionately borne by poor people, by minorities, which is what we’re seeing here with the pipeline,” Frischkorn said. “Bismarck didn’t want it near them. Bismarck is over 90 percent white, and the communities that will now be impacted, they’re 90 percent Native American. Income is a lot lower in these communities as well.”

Frischkorn said he believes people are becoming more conscious of environmental issues, especially young people, but he added the pipeline is a much bigger issue – infringing on property owners rights, civil rights and personal rights.

“This is important because it’s not just an environmental issue, it’s a civil rights issue, and to me, it doesn’t really matter what your opinion on the pipeline is. The way people are being treated is wrong,” Frischkorn said. “That’s why we’re seeing groups of people from all walks of life coming together.”

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.